Tag Archives: Election Day

Why not ‘celebrate’ Election Day?

This isn’t an original thought but I am going to pitch it here with vigor. Election Day should be an event Americans should commemorate, indeed even celebrate.

Thus, I am leaning heavily toward proposing a national holiday for the day we go to the polls to elect the leader of our government. I make this pitch partly out of frustration as well.

I spent a lot of years as a journalist trying to boost voter turnout on Election Day. It was an exercise in futility. I ran out of ways to say the same thing. We cheered when turnout at the national level exceeded, say, 55 percent when we chose our president. I consider that to be a disgraceful turnout. Fifty-five percent turnout among all Americans who are eligible to vote? That means more than 40 percent of those Americans don’t bother to cast their ballot.

Here’s my thought: Make Election Day every two years a national holiday. I include the midterm congressional election as deserving of this extra attention.

Why don’t people vote? I guess it’s for a variety of reasons. Frustration with the choices. A feeling that their vote doesn’t matter. Not enough time.

Ah, about that last item. The time element can be fixed by declaring a national holiday. Give working Americans the day off from work, the way we do for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day.

We can remove one key barrier from Americans who might want to vote, but who say they don’t have the time, that their bosses won’t allow them to take a few moments to go cast their ballots.

I understand fully that we cannot give everyone a day off from work on Election Day. Medical personnel, police officers, firefighters, public utility workers all need to be on the job.

I much prefer the national holiday idea to other efforts to boost turnout, such as mail-in voting. I have noted many times already that I like the ritual associated with going to the polls, of waiting in line, of kibitzing with fellow voters. Mail-only voting has boosted turnout in many states — such as my home state of Oregon. I stand by my preference, though, to cast my ballot in a polling place.

I live in state, Texas, with a shamefully pitiful voting turnout. We tend to vote on everything here, so there might be some voter fatigue that suppresses turnout. I don’t know how to deal with that.

However, I want there to be a national push — for the midterm election and for the presidential election — to give this process the level of veneration it deserves.

Declaring Election Day to be a national holiday might do the trick.

Debates do matter, Lt. Gov. Patrick

The word is out: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t want to debate his opponent before Election Day.

That’s too bad. Actually, it’s a shame. Hey, I’ll even say it’s a disgrace to the cause of learning all we can about the individuals who want to represent us at the highest levels of state government.

Patrick, the Republican, is running against Democratic challenger Mike Collier, who has been needling Patrick for weeks about debating.

I cannot quite fathom why Patrick is so reticent. He comes from a media background; he was a radio talk-show host before entering politics as a state senator from Houston.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s no secret Lt. Governor Patrick relishes debates, but since his opponent shows no sign of grasping even the most basic rudiments of state government, our campaign has no plans to debate him,” Patrick strategist Allen Blakemore said in a statement to the Tribune. “There isn’t anyone in the Lone Star State who isn’t absolutely clear about where Dan Patrick stands on the issues. He told us what he was going to do, then he did it. That’s why Dan Patrick has the overwhelming support of the conservative majority in Texas.”

OK, I’ll come clean: He doesn’t have my support. He has sought to yank the state into far-right territory that makes me uncomfortable. The Bathroom Bill he sought in 2017 is the example of what I’m talking about. He sought to make it illegal for transgendered individuals to use public restrooms in accordance with their current gender; he intended to make the use restrooms that matched their birth certificate gender. The bill died in a special session.

That’s out of the way.

He should debate Collier. GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez are likely to debate each other, even though Abbott is going to be the prohibitive favorite to win re-election.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican, will likely debate his Democratic foe, Beto O’Rourke. That contest figures to be a whole lot closer.

So, the lieutenant governor isn’t likely afraid to meet his challenger head to head. Why not just quit playing games, Lt. Gov. Patrick?

Step onto the stage and have it out with your challenger and make the case on why you should be re-elected.

And, yes, if that’s what happens on Election Day, it will be in spite of the ballot I will cast.

Here is why early voting sucks

A major Texas newspaper has just validated my reasons for hating early voting.

The Dallas Morning News has rescinded an editorial endorsement it had made because a candidate for a Dallas County Commissioners Court seat was revealed to have set up a trust fund for his children if they married white people.

The candidate is Republican Vickers Cunningham. The revelation came to light on the eve of the runoff election for the commissioners court seat. The Dallas Morning News was so incensed at the racially loaded matter that it pulled its endorsement.

This is what I’m talking about! I have said for many years that — banning my actual absence from my voting precinct on Election Day — I always choose to vote on that day. Why? Because I hate being surprised by learning something terrible about my candidate after voting for him or her.

The matter involving Vickers Cunningham falls into that category of unwelcome surprise.

The Morning News said it backed Cunningham because of his experience as a district court judge. It didn’t know about the compact he made with his children until “the final days of this campaign.”

I know that Election Day voting doesn’t prevent such surprises. I merely want to minimize to the best of my ability the impact of such a surprise by waiting until the last day of an election campaign to exercise my right as a citizen.

Voting early … under duress

I’ve stated over the years my distaste for voting early. I prefer the ritual of voting on Election Day. It’s a matter of seeking to protect myself against any of my candidates doing something that would make me regret casting my ballot for them.

Here comes the punch line: I am likely going to have vote prior to the March 6 primary election.

It’s not because I want to do so. It’s because my wife and I plan to be out of town that day. Our granddaughter’s birthday will require us to be away from our polling place on Election Day. Thus, I’ll be voting “absentee,” which is what they used to call it long before states made “early voting” so fashionable.

I remain opposed to voting early when I know I will be home on the day we go to the polls.

My opposition is as strong as ever.

Now the quandary: Which primary do I choose? In Texas we have what’s called an “open primary” system. We don’t walk into a polling place registered to vote in one party’s primary; we make that decision when we get there. The election judge then might stamp our voting card with the name of whichever primary we choose to cast our ballot.

Since my wife and I are registered to vote in Randall County, it’s a foregone conclusion that the local races will feature zero Democrats. In these mid-term elections, I often find myself voting in the GOP primary because that’s where my vote counts for county race and state legislative contests. I am occasionally inclined to look past the national races — U.S. House and Senate — while preferring to decide for whom to vote in the general election in November.

So, this year I likely will get to break with personal tradition.

Vote early for city election? No thanks … I’ll wait

Social media are buzzing with pleas from the bevy of Amarillo City Council, Amarillo College, and Amarillo school board candidates for residents to vote early.

I am not taking the bait. Per my custom, I am going to wait until May 6, Election Day.

I’m a sucker for tradition. I’d even call it a bit of pageantry. I like going to the polling place on Election Day to chat with other voters. There won’t be a huge crowds at my polling place, which usually is at Arden Road Baptist Church. There won’t be much chance to hobnob with other folks about having to wait in long lines … blah, blah, blah.

I’ll wait, though, to make my statement.

I’ve made up my mind for the City Council. I’m getting closer to deciding how I intend to vote for Amarillo College’s Board of Regents. I live in the Canyon Independent School District, but there’s no election, given that no one filed to challenge the incumbents who serve on the CISD board.

My reason for waiting, though, is a bit more, um, sinister.

I don’t want to be surprised in the final 10 days of a campaign by something seriously negative coming out about the candidate for whom I have cast my vote. Thus, I wait until the last day.

The City Council campaign is beginning to produce a smattering of negativity, to which I’ve alluded already in this forum. I’m a bit annoyed at the naysayers who keep yapping about how much money is being spent for an office that pays a lousy 10 bucks per public meeting.

Big bleeping deal?

My slate of City Council candidates looks solid to me. I’m sticking with them.

I trust they’ll understand that I intend to wait a few more days before making my ballot-box statement.

It’s dangerous to take anything — or anyone — for granted.

Are the wheels flying off Trump’s ‘fine-tuned machine’?

“A fine-tuned machine” does not experience the kind of malfunctions we are witnessing within Donald J. Trump’s administration.

For instance, it doesn’t produce an FBI director asking the Justice Department to dismiss an explosive allegation coming from the president of the United States against his immediate predecessor.

FBI Director James Comey wants the Justice Department to toss out Trump’s allegation — delivered this weekend in a tweet — that Barack Obama ordered spooks to wiretap Trump’s offices in Trump Tower.

Why would they do such a thing, which they have denied doing? It would be to look for evidence that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russian officials to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

Trump calls it a “fact” that such a thing occurred. Comey, in an apparent act of open rebellion against the president, says, um, no it isn’t. It didn’t happen. At this moment, DOJ officials haven’t done as Comey has asked.

Ladies and gents, we are witnessing perhaps the first shots of open warfare within the Trump administration. It might be Trump v. Comey in this fight.

Ex-DNI denies wiretap allegation.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on “Meet the Press” this morning that any such order to wiretap Trump’s office would have had to come from a federal judge, who would have determined probable cause to issue such an order. The DNI, said Clapper, would be made aware of it.

Clapper said it never occurred during his time as DNI.

Comey has taken up Clapper’s side in this fight.

The “fine-tuned machine” — which is how the president described his administration during that infamous press conference a couple of weeks ago — appears set to explode in flames.

What happens now? The president might fire Comey. What do you suppose would be the public reaction to such an event?

The president, moreover, is reportedly furious at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from an investigation into Russia’s alleged effort to influence the presidential election.

Does that sound to you like a “fine-tuned machine” that is humming along on all cylinders? Me neither.

My … goodness.


Comey’s request of the DOJ to drop this wiretap nonsense is fascinating at another level as well. The FBI director heaved that political grenade into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign 11 days before Election Day informing her of a letter he had sent to Congress asking for a re-examination of that e-mail controversy that dogged her all along the way.

Clinton blames that letter for stopping her momentum and for giving Trump the ammo he needed to blast her presidential campaign to smithereens.

Now he turns on the individual he supposedly helped get elected?

Lock ‘n load!

Election-day voting still produces excitement


We went to the polls, we voted, we returned home … all in a span of about 20 minutes.

The time we spent at our Randall County, Texas “voting center” didn’t amount to much. However, it remains one of the things I love to do every time they have an election.

For those of us who live in Texas, that’s a frequent occurrence, indeed. We vote on everything around here.

Election Day is a big deal. I wish we would place more emphasis on it than we do. Instead, U.S. political media and politicians have become enamored with early voting. Get your ballots cast early and avoid the rush, they say.

I have heard some staggering numbers relating to early voting here in Randall County. More than 43,000 ballots were cast early for the 2016 election, a new presidential election record. Consider this: In 2012, nearly 49,000 total ballots were cast. If the percentage turnout this time is anywhere near what it was four years ago, voter traffic at the voting centers is going to mighty sparse.

We expected a larger crowd than what we saw this morning when we went to the polling place.

Whatever the case, this event always gives me a thrill.

Yes, we’ve all commented — or heard others comment — on the dismal nature of this presidential campaign. I thought the high negative perceptions of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would drive down the turnout. I guess I was wrong about that, too.

My wife and I have completed our civic duty. We’re glad we did it.

Pardon the cliché, but I’m proud to be an American.

How will we respond to the result?


Let’s play this out for a moment … or maybe two.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is poised to make history in about 24 hours. Her opponent, Donald J. Trump, is poised to lose the first — and likely only — political campaign he’s ever run.

How will the rest of us react?

Clinton voters will be joyful. Trump voters will be, um, angry? Filled with rage? Suspicious?

If we are to believe the last-minute polling, Clinton’s lead is holding firm at around 4 or 5 percent nationally.

The national anger well might hinge on the speech that Trump will be forced to give sometime Tuesday night. The networks will call the election for Clinton. Trump will embrace his wife and kids. He’ll take them by the hand and walk onto a stage at Trump Tower and make some kind of statement.

Tradition holds that the loser’s speech precedes the winner’s victory proclamation.

Will the loser do the right thing? Will he accept the result? Will he do something finally — finally! — that hues to longstanding political tradition?

If he does what he should do, Trump can go a long way toward heading off the anger he has fomented with his own rhetoric along the way. Would a graceful exit quell all the anger? Don’t bet the farm on that one.

Yes, it’s been a long and difficult slog. It’s about to end.

It’s fair tonight to wonder: How would Clinton sound if the world spins off its axis tomorrow? How would she handle defeat? My gut tells me she would follow tradition, that she would honor the result.

The most important speech of this entire campaign is going to occur when the loser concedes.

A speech that strikes the right tone can do far more than any of the bluster we’ve been hearing since seemingly forever.


Now … the wait begins


I’m out.

You’ve heard from me countless times already about how much I detest Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. I’ve said much less about Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. I guess I’ve fallen into the trap that lures people to speak negatively more readily than they speak positively.

So, with less than two days to go before we decide this presidential election, I’m done commenting on the candidates.

I’m going to await the results along with the rest of a dispirited nation.

Those who know me best might recognize that I am generally an optimist. I tend to see the good in people and in institutions. This election campaign — which has gone on non-stop for a year and a half — has tested that optimistic outlook to the max.

I am unhappy with the choices we face. I’ll make my own choice on Tuesday. My wife and I plan to vote early on Election Day, hoping to get to the polling place before the most of the rest of our neighbors wake up.

For me, it’s never really been a close call. I had considered a third party choice. I’ve decided against that.

My vote is more valuable than for me to cast it as a protest. On that score, my idealism remains strong.

If only I felt better about the process we’ve witnessed for an interminable length of time or about the candidates who’ve been responsible for bringing this process about.

What’s more, if only I felt better about the media that have contributed to this miserable exercise.

Get ready for election night


They say there’s a first time for everything … as in, well, everything.

I need not be too specific … if you get my drift.

My wife and I are going to do something for the first time — if my memory hasn’t failed me — on Tuesday.

We’re going to an election-night watch party.

Some friends of ours in Amarillo invited us to their home along with several dozen perhaps of their best friends to watch the returns roll in on this most consequential presidential election.

Our friends know of my utter, complete, well-documented disdain for the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. They figure I’m all in with the Democratic nominee.

I’m not really. Neither is my wife.

But here’s the thing. Americans are facing a dismal choice as they select the next president of the United States. One of these two people will take the oath of office next January.

Am I happy about the choices we have?

As I told friends my wife and I met for lunch Friday in Colorado Springs, Colo., if the choices had been, say, Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, that would have presented me with a much happier decision-making exercise. If Kasich had been the GOP nominee this fall instead of the clown the party nominated, then I likely would be casting my first-ever presidential vote for the Republican nominee.

Our friends say they want to surround themselves Tuesday night with friends who will want Hillary Clinton to be elected.

From my perspective, that might be overstating — in a fairly nuanced sort of way — my own preference.

Given the miserable nature of the GOP nominee, I would prefer Hillary to be elected.

With that in mind — and in my heart — we will go to our friends’ home in a couple of days and hope that Americans will make the right call in selecting the next head of state, commander in chief and leader of the greatest nation on Earth.